EZLN communique to the November 1988 meeting with Civil Society

Words for the opening of the Civil Society - EZLN Meeting in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, November 20 -22, 1998.

"We the masses; we the tattered ones; we the starving; we who have not even a place to lay our heads; we who live tormented by the uncertainty of tomorrow's bread for our companeras and our children; we who, grown old, are ignominiously dismissed, because we can no longer work, it is up to us to make powerful efforts, a thousand sacrifices, in order to destroy down to its foundations the building of the old society, which has been, up until now, a loving mother for the rich, and a distant stepmother for those who work and are good."
Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magon, Librado Ribera and Anselmo L. Figueroa

Brothers and Sisters:

We are speaking to you in the name of the children, the old ones, men and women, militants, insurgents, officials and comandantes of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

In the name of all of those, we greet you.

Before anything else we wish to thank you for having invited us to this meeting with you, for having mobilized and organized in order to open this space of dialogue, and for having made the effort and achieved a new opportunity for the word.

During these times, the government has not stopped its war against us. More weapons and more soldiers threaten our peoples. The government's war makes us more deaths and more prisoners in order to break our resistance.

For the government, the war against the indigenous is a business. Not just because their soldiers earn more money, more than double the normal salary; also because the leaders participate in the businesses of prostitution and the sale of alcohol in the areas around the barracks and the garrisons. International drug trafficking has found support and protection in the government through the armed forces which are occupying chiapaneco territory.

Because of that, Zedillo does everything possible to block or to impede the peace efforts of civil society, of the progressive Church and of various political actors.

Each time some sign allows the kindling of hopes of dialogue and peace, the government and the army unleash provocations which seek to defeat any initiative which is not one of annihilation.

The soldiers give orders not just in their barracks, they also do so in the house of the government of the state of Chiapas and in the state and federal police stations which are operating in these lands.

Chiapas is experiencing today the reality of a de facto govenrment, directed by the military. The PRI and the state authorities are nothing more than pathetic marionettes who pretend to make politics.

Since the peace dialogues began, and during this entire time in which they have been suspended, the government has not stopped waging a war of extermination against the Indian peoples of Mexico, and especially against the chiapaneco indigenous.

In response to this, the zapatista peoples resist. Time and again they are attacked. Every day they are harassed. Every day they must be subjected to a campaign of lies and deception against them. And every day as well there are attempts to purchase their dignity and pride.

Turning to their history and knowledge, and supported by good and honest people and organizations, the zapatista peoples are resisting the war of extermination, organizing themselves in collective works in order to resolve their problems of health, education, food and housing. The few resources possessed by the zapatista indigenous communities do not go towards the purchase of armaments or military equipment, but rather to programs which improve their material conditions. Not to live better, but rather to be able to reisist and to continue struggling, until all the Indian peoples of Mexico see their rights recognized, and have their history and their destiny in their hands, and all Mexicans have democracy, liberty and justice.

The government finds it intolerable that a handful of indigenous have dared to defy their empire of lies and corruption. That is why they have responded to our just demands with jokes, contempt, the forgetting and death.

But we have found not only obliviousness and stupidity in our path.

In the midst of terrible winds and rains, your word reached our land and made a little house for the small fire of our hope.

Civil society, that real force, which so infuriates the political scientists and leaders, has not remained silent and immobilized in the face of this war against our roots.

In Mexico, and in the entire world, voices and thoughts have been raised which speak to us and listen to us, and which demand that the war be stopped and a place be left for reason and the word.

Men and women have led this civil mobilization for peace.

In the most difficult and the darkest moments, when humanitarian aid organizations, legislators and personalities have been paralyzed at their desks and in their offices, hundreds of men and women all over the world organized, carried out relief campaigns, rock concerts, art bazaars, groups of human rights observers, and mobilized from the corners of the five continents and of all Mexico and came to our communiiites, sometimes to bring tons of food, clothing and medicine, sometimes to see and to hear what the government did not want to have seen and to have heard, and sometimes to bring just a greeting, a "here we are", a "you are not alone".

For that we wish to make a public recognition, in the name of all the zapatistas, of all the men and women of Mexico and of all the world.

To all of those who, without names, like us, and without faces, like us, have joined in our resisting, struggling and dreaming, which is a somewhat complicated form of resisting and living in these times of cynicism and comfortable conformities.

Salud, then, men and women of Mexico. Salud, then, men and women of Europe, of America, of Asia, of Africa and of Oceana.

Salud to the indigenous men and women, to the working men and women, to the campesino men and women, to the employed men and women, to the young men and women students, to the men and women teachers, to the men and women political prisoners, to the unemployed men and women, to the banda men and women, to the young men and women rockers, to the men and women artists, to the homosexuals and lesbians, to the retired and pensioner men and women, to the handicapped men and women, to the middle-aged men and women, to the men and women in Mexico who say and who say to each other, ya basta!

Salud to the men and women in the American Union, in Canada, in the Iberian Peninsula, in Italy, in Sweden, in France, in Switzerland, in Denmark, in Norway, in Greece, in Germany, in the Basque Country, in Ireland, in Holland, in Japan, in Australia, in Uruguay, and Chile, in Argentina, in Brazil, in Colombia, in Venezuela, in Bolivia, in Peru, in Ecuador, in Nicaragua, building bridges of resistance and rebellion, and letting the memory and the tomorrow walk across them.

Men and women of Mexico and the world:

We ask all of you, no matter where you might be, to accept this small homage from the zapatistas.

With these men and women as vehicle, motor, fuel, path and destiny, civil society achieves its most honorable name and its most beautiful and dignified face, its best tomorrow.

For these men and women, with them, from them, came the invitation for this meeting, a meeting between those who signed and those who signed on, and those who neither signed nor signed on.

We are listening. These men and women have taught us to listen, and we were able to learn well, and we listen to your voice which invited a larger word, one where many voices fit, various and different voices, other voices.

We are listening, and that is why we are here with you.

Today we find ourselves united here. It was not easy for us to reach each other. Many forces had to be put in place, many idiocies had to be overcome, many obstacles had to be removed, even if it was but momentarily. But here we are.

All of us, you and the we which you are, have arrived here, moved by reasons as distinct as the flags we carry, as the thoughts we walk with, as the colors in which we dress and as the hopes we create in our hearts.

Different motors have driven our steps towards this place, and here we all are, together.

But, although the motives which brought us to meet together have been different, there are some which are the same:

For example, perhaps all of us believe that the other is other and it is, and that being other is neither less nor more, it merely is.

And, for example, perhaps all of us believe that the world which comes and goes, growing, dialogue, then, is a good path if the hearts which meet are true.

And perhaps, for example, all of us believe peace, justice and dignity cannot be separated, and to omit any of them is to make war, to spread destruction and to decree death for the other.

Or it could be, for example, that all of us believe that democracy is democracy, the government of the people, by the people and for the people. And we the people are all the others which we are.

During the preparations for this meeting, we have been in contact with some of you. We have said to them what we are now going to repeat to everyone:

We want a wide, open, inclusive meting, where there is room and respect for all the voices, if they are true and show respect.

We want a meeting of ideas and concrete proposals for the consultation on the law for indigenous rights and culture.

We want a meeting in search of peace.

We want a meeting of analysis of the national situation.

We want a meeting in order to begin to seek, to find and to walk along the path towards a better country, more just, more free and more democratic. We believe that all of this will begin being constructed, starting from here, because it is a good time for speaking and for listening.

Before we left to come here, the Sup Marcos told us a history which he says was told to him by old Antonio for the sea. The sup told us this history so that we would know of it and recount it to you...

The History of Hurakan and the Word which Bears Accord

The oldest of our old tell that their great grandparents said the world was born from the word. But not from the word of one alone, which speaks to itself or only speaks to within.

The great grandparents say that the two which are one met each other in the darkness of the night and they spoke one to the other to each other and they thought about each other, which is another way of speaking without words.

The oldest grandparents say that some called to the one which is two, naming them Tepeu and Gucumatz.

And they also say that the one which is two, is so by seven times.

It is the Tzacol and the Bitol, who are the mother creator and the father maker.

It is the Alom and the Qaholom, who are the mother who nurtures and the father who cares for.

It is the Hunahpu-Vuch and the Hunahpu-Utiu, which is how the mother morning and the father night are called...

It is the Zqui-nima-tzhs and the Nima-Ac, the mother grandmother and the father grandfather.

It is the Tepeu and the Gucumutaz, which means the mother who struggles and conquers and the father who governs well.

It is the U Qux Palo and the U Qux Cah, which is how the mother sea and the father heart of the heavens are named.

And seven times are the one which is two of the very first gods, those who gave birth to the world.

And they say that one which is two seven times came to an accord and they joined their words and their thoughts and then they agreed and they planned the birth of the world.

They say the oldest grandparents say the two who are seven times one called out to each other in the Hurakan, which is another way of calling to the "heart of the heavens".

And the most ancient say that giving birth to the world is not easy, that several are needed, that the word is tool and material for building, and it was in the time of Hurakan when the words were born, that words give birth to accords and that accords give dawn to worlds.

So say the most ancient, our grandparents most grandparents, that Caculha Hurakan, also named only Hurakan, made the heart of the heavens, and in the wet wind of light makes his plan to birth new worlds.

So said old Antonio so that we would know, so that we would walk through this time of cyclones and hurricanes, with not just the pain which dampens our gorund and our skies, but also so that, with the light which Caculha Hurakan now gives, we would speak with you, and with words we would agree with each other and plan with each other something simple: to give birth to another world, a better one, a more good one, one where there is place, respect, hearing and voice for all the others which we all are.

That is why, in these times of hurricane, this meeting is being held, that is why you came, that is why we came, that is why we are meeting together.

Salud, then, brothers and sisters of civil society.

Thank you for having invited us to this meeting.

Thank you for giving us place, respect, hearing and voice.


From the Mexican Southeast

Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee
- General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

Mexico, November of 1998


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